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Dallas Stars Place Johnny Oduya on IR, Recall Julius Honka and Esa Lindell

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Julius Honka will likely make his NHL debut Monday against Minnesota.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the Dallas Stars have been devastated by injuries this season, the brokenness had mostly been kept within the forward ranks. That is no longer the case, however, as the Stars announced Sunday that Johnny Oduya has been placed on Injured Reserve with a lower body injury. Esa Lindell and Julius Honka have been recalled from Texas to supplement the defense corps.

This is Julius Honka’s first callup, and there is little doubt that he will indeed play in Dallas tomorrow when the Stars finish up their four-game homestand against the Minnesota Wild.

The loss of Johnny Oduya cannot be overlooked, as he has been one of the only consistent members of the Stars’ defense this season. He left for the locker room late in the first period of Saturday’s game, but he returned in the second to finish the game.

Esa Lindell’s recall was always expected to happen soon with the word “loan” being used for his latest assignment to Texas, but we’re burying the lede here, because Julius Honka’s recall is a very big deal for this Dallas defense.

With the Stars having particular trouble getting the puck from the defense to the forwards against Edmonton Saturday, Julius Honka seems as good a cure for that issue as the Stars have in their entire organization. The #14 overall pick in the 2014 draft has been playing in Texas for a couple of years now, making a splash in his unorthodox move to the AHL in 2014 as a 19-year-old.

Honka promises to bring swift skating, playmaking ability, and slick moves with the puck, as well as a third right-handed shot to round out the defense’s right side. While one should always temper expectations with young players entering the NHL, it’s hard not to be excited about how Honka could bring a much-needed new look to a defense that has failed to find a rhythm for most of the season.

If you somehow still haven’t seen David’s excellent piece on Honka (complete with GIFs!) earlier this year, I’d urge you to give it a look.

Sean Shapiro also had some good notes today about what Honka’s recall could look like. Here is a part of those notes:

Honka has hit another level in the AHL this season offensively and has 12 points in 16 games. Defensively he’s limited some past mistakes, but still commits turnovers when trying to make a big play. Honka has also played with more of an edge this season and leads Texas with 37 penalty minutes.

This could be a sign the Stars are going to completely shake up the defense against Minnesota after struggling against the Oilers. Dallas could insert Lindell, Honka, and Jamie Oleksiak (who was a healthy scratch on Saturday) to completely revamp a defense core that allowed Connor McDavid’s first career hat trick.

The rest of Shapiro’s piece is, of course, great. It also includes some thoughts on what this could mean for Jamie Oleksiak. I’d urge you to give it a read.

Here is the official release:

Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has recalled defensemen Esa Lindell and Julius Honka from the Texas Stars, Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League, and placed defenseman Johnny Oduya on Injured Reserve.

Lindell, 22, has tallied one assist (0-1=1), 15 hits and 14 blocked shots in 10 games with Dallas this season. He appeared in two games for Texas, posting one point (0-1=1) and a +3 plus/minus rating.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound native of Vantaa, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the third round (74th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Honka, 20, is currently tied for fourth amongst AHL defenseman with 12 points (3-9=12) in 16 games played for Texas. Amongst team leaders, he is fourth in points and first amongst defensemen. His 37 penalty minutes lead the team and are fifth-most amongst AHL defensemen.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound native of Jyvaskyla, Finland was originally selected by Dallas in the first round (14th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Oduya, 35, has posted five points (1-4=5) in 19 games played for Dallas this season. He suffered a lower body injury on Nov. 19 vs. Edmonton. The 6-foot, 195-pound native of Stockholm, Sweden was signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 15, 2015.